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about Haarlem

Haarlem is a city in the west of the Netherlands, capital of the North Holland province. The city is located by the river Spaarne, about 20 km west of Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. It is the center of a flower-growing district and the export point for bulbs, especially tulips.

The municipality of Haarlem also comprises the village of Spaarndam.

The motto of Haarlem is Vicit vim virtus, which is Latin for virtue won over violence.

Haarlem history

The oldest mentioning of Haarlem dates from the 10th century. The name comes from "Haarlo-heim" or "Harulahem", which means 'place, on sand covered with trees, higher than the others'. The location of the village was a good one: by the river Spaarne, and by a major road going south to north. By the 12th century it was a fortified town, and Haarlem became the hometown for the Counts of Holland.

In 1219 the knights of Haarlem were honored by Count Willem I, because they had conquered the Egyptian port of Damietta (or Damiate in Dutch) in the 5th crusade. Haarlem received the right to bear the Count's sword and cross in its coat of arms. On November 23, 1245 Count Willem II granted Haarlem city rights. This implied a number of privileges, among which the right for the sheriff and magistrates to administer justice, instead of the Count. This allowed for a quicker and more efficient justice system, more suited for the needs of the growing city.

After a siege by the Kennemers in 1270 a defensive wall was built around the city. Most likely this was a wall of earth, with wooden gates. Originally the city started out between Spaarne, Oudegracht, Ridderstraat, Bakenessergracht and Naussaustraat. In the 14th century the city expanded, and the Burgwalbuurt, Bakenes and the area around the Oudegracht became part of the city. The old defenses weren't strong enough for the expanded city, and at the end of the 14th century a 16,5 meter high wall was built, along with a 15 meters wide canal around the city.

In 1304 the Flemish threaten the city, but they are defeated by Witte van Haemstede at Manpad.

The buildings in the city were all made of wood, so there was a big risk for fires. In 1328 almost the whole city burned down. The St-Bavokerk got severly damaged, the rebuilding would take more than 150 years. Again, on June 12, 1347 there was a fire in the city. A third large fire, in 1351, destroyed many buildings including the Count's castle and the cityhall. The Count did not need a castle in Haarlem anymore, because his castle in Den Haag had taken over all functions. The Count donated the ground to the city and later a new cityhall was built there. The shape of the old city was square -- this was inspired by the shape of the ancient Jerusalem. After every fire the city was rebuilt quickly, an indication of the wealth of the city in those years.

The Black Death came to the city in 1381. According to an estimate by a priest from Leiden the disease killed 5,000 people: about 50% of the population at that time.

In the 14th century Haarlem was a major city. It was the 2nd largest city in the historical Holland after Dordrecht and before Delft, Leiden, Amsterdam, Gouda and Rotterdam. In 1429 the city gained the right to collect tolls, including on ships passing by the city at the river Spaarne. At the end of the Middle Ages Haarlem was a flourishing city with a lot of textile industry, shipyards and beerbreweries.

Around 1428 the city was put under siege by the army of Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut. Haarlem had taken side with the 'Cods' in the Hook and Cod wars, and thus against Jacoba van Beieren. The whole Haarlemmerhout was burned down by the enemy.

When the city of Brielle was conquered by the Geuzen revolutionary army, the Haarlem municipality started supporting the Geuzen. The ruler of Spain was not pleased, and sent an army up north under command of Don Fadrique (Don Frederick in Dutch), son of the Duke of Alva. On November 17, 1572 all citizens of the city of Zutphen were murdered by the Spanish army, and on December 1st the city of Naarden suffered the same fate.

On December 11, 1572 the Spanish army put Haarlem under siege. The cities defenses were commanded by city-gouvernor Wigbolt Ripperda. Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer, a very strong woman, helped defending the city.

The first two months of the siege the situation was in balance. The Spanish army was digging tunnels, to reach the city walls and blow them up. The defenders made tunnels to blow up the Spanish tunnels. The situation became worse for Haarlem on March 29, 1573. The Amsterdam army, faithful to the Spanish king, occupied the Haarlemmermeer and effectively blocked Haarlem from the outside world. The hunger in the city grew, and the situation became so tense that on May 27 many (Spanish-loyal) prisoners were taken from the prison and murdered.

Two city gates, the Kruispoort and the Janspoort collapsed from the fighting.

In the beginning of July the Prince of Orange put together an army of 5000 soldiers near Leiden, to rescue Haarlem. However, the Spanish trap them at the Manpad and beats the army. After seven months the city surrendered on July 13, 1573. Many soldiers of the army that defended the city were slaughtered; many of them were drowned in the Spaarne river. Gouvernor Ripperda and his luitenant were beheaded. The citizens were allowed the buy themselves and the city free for 240.000 guilders and the city would have to host a Spanish garrison. Don Fadrique thanked God for his victory in the Sint-Bavo Church.

Great fire

The city suffered a big fire in the night from October 22nd to October 23rd, 1576. The fire started in brewery het Ankertje, near the Waag at the Spaarne, which was used by German mercenaries as a guarding place. When they were warming themselves at a fire it got out of control. The fire was spotted by farmers, who were on their ships in the river. However, the soldiers turned down all help, saying that they would put out the fire themselves. This failed, and the fire destroyed almost 500 buildings, among them the St-Gangolfschurch and the Elisabeth's Gasthuis. Most of the mercenaries were later arrested, and one of them got hang on the Grote Markt in front of a large audience. Maps from that era clearly show the damage done by the fire: a wide strip through the city was destroyed.

The combined result of the siege and the fire was that about a third of the city was destroyed.

Linen and silk

The Spanish left in 1577 and under the Agreement of Veere, protestants and catholics were given equal rights.

A large influx of Flemish and French immigrants who were fleeing the Spanish occupation of their own cities made the city prosper again. They brought a lot expertise in linen and silk trading, and the city's population grew from 18.000 in 1573 to around 40.000 in 1622. At that time, in 1621, more than 50% of the population was Flemish. Haarlem's linen became world famous, and the city flourished, just like the rest of the country: the Dutch Golden Age had started.


In 1632 a tow canal between Haarlem and Amsterdam was opened, the first tow canal in the country. The empty holes in the city, caused by the fire of 1576, were filled with new houses and building. Even outside the city wall buildings were constructed -- in 1643 about 400 houses were counted outside the wall. Having buildings outside the city walls was not a desireable situation for the city administration. Not only because these buildings would be vulnerable in case of an attack on the city, but also because there could be less control over taxes and city regulations outside the walls. Therefore a major project was started in 1671: the expansion of the city north-wards. Two new canals were dug, and a new defensive wall was constructed (the current Staten en Prinsenbolwerk). Two old city gates the Janspoort and Kruispoort were demolished. The idea that a city had to be square-shaped was left behind.

Cultural life

Haarlem's cultural life also prospered, with famous painters like Frans Hals and Jacob van Ruisdael, architect Lieven de Key and Jan Steen who made many paitings in Haarlem. On the Grote Markt, the central market square, there's a statue of Laurens Janszoon Coster who is allegedly the inventor of the printing press. In 1628 a chemist in Haarlem goes broke, and decides to join the VOC to sail to the East. His name, Jeronimus Cornelisz, will always be connected with the Batavia ship.

Beerbrewing was a very important industry in Haarlem. Until the 16th century the water for the beer was taken from the canals in the city. These were, through the Spaarne and the IJ, connected to seawater. However, the water in the canals was getting more and more polluted, and no longer suitable for brewing beer. A place 1,5 kilometers south-west of the city was then used to take fresh water in. However, the quality of that water was not high enough either. From the 17th century a canal (Santvaert) was used to transport water from the dunes to the city. The water was transported in barrels on ships. The location where the water was taken is called the Brouwerskolkje, and the canal to there still exists, and is now called the Brewerscanal (Brouwersgracht).

Haarlem was a major beer producer in the Netherlands, the majority of the beer it produced was consumed in Noord-Holland. During the Spanish siege there were about 50 brewing companies in the city, 45 years later in 1620 there were around 100.

In the 1630s, Haarlem was a major trading center for tulips (and it still is), and it was the center in the tulipomania, where faboulous prices were paid for tulib bulbs.

There was another epidemy of the Black Death in 1657, and took a heavy toll in the 6 months it ravaged the city.

From the end of the 17th century the economic situation in the city turned sour, for a long time. In 1752 there were only seven beer breweries left, and in 1820 no breweries were registered in the city anymore.

French rule

At the end of the 18th century a number of anti-Orange commissions were founded.

On January 18th, 1795 the "Staatse" army was defeated near Woerden. In the night of the 18th to the 19th, the same night that stadtholder William_V_of_Orange fled the country, the various commissions gathered and implemented a revolution. The commissions changed the city's administrators in a blood-less revolution, and the next morning the city was 'liberated' of the tyranny of the House of Orange. The revolution was peaceful and the Orange-loyal people were not harmed.

The Batavian Republic was proclaimed. The French army entered the liberated city 2 days later, on the January 20th. An army of 1500 soldiers was provided by food and clothing by the citizens. The new national government was strongly centralized, and the role of the cities was reduced in the national debate.

The Batavian Republic had signed a mutual defense pact with France, and was thus automatically in war with England. The strong English presence at sea severely reduced the trading opportunities, and the Dutch economy suffered.

19th century

The textile industry, which had always been an important pillar of the Haarlem economy, was in a bad shape at the beginning of the 19th century. The strong international competition, and the revolutionary new production methods based on steam engines that were used in England, brought the end to the industry in Haarlem.

In 1815 the city's population was about 17.000 people, with many of them being poor. The foundation of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in that year gave many hope. Many believed that under a new goverment the economy would rise again, and that export-oriented parts of the economy such as the textile industry would recover. However, this hoped turned out to be idle -- the Dutch economy was stuck. The Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappij (NHM) was founded by King Willem I to create employment opportunities.

In Haarlem, then one of the cities in west-Holland with the worst economical situation, cotton factories were created in the NHM-program. These cotton factories produced for the Dutch Indies, and because the Dutch goverment levied heavy taxes on foreign cotton producers this was a good market for the NHM-factories. The program started in the 1830s, but never managed to substantially reduce the unemployment in the city. The American Civil War in the 1860s reduced the import of raw cotton significantly, and in 1872 the protectionistic measures for the Dutch Indies' market were removed.

In the beginning of the 19th century the defense walls had lost their function, and architect Zocher Jr. planned a park on the location of the former defense line. The city walls and gates were demolished.

Haarlem became the provicial capital of North Holland in the early 19th century.

Halfway the 19th century the city's economy started slowly to improve. New factories were opened, and a number of large companies were founded in Haarlem. In 1911 Anthony Fokker showed his plane, de Spin to the audience in Haarlem by flying around the Sint-Bavokerk on Queen's Day.

In 1814 George Stephenson designed the first locomotive. The goverment of the Netherlands was relatively slow to catch up, even though the King feared competition from the newly founded Belgium if they would construct a train track between Antwerpen and other cities. The Dutch Tweede Kamer was afraid of the high investments, but a group of private investors started the Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg Maatschappij on June 1st, 1836. It took three years to build the first track, between Haarlem and Amsterdam. The track was right next to the old tow canal, and the ground there was wet and muddy. On September 20th, 1839 the first train service in the Netherlands started. The train had a speed of about 40 kilometers per hour. The train service gave the economy of Haarlem a strong boost. Instead of more than 2 hours, Amsterdam was now only 30 minutes away. The tow canal boats were quickly taken out of service for passengers.

Because of the creating of new land in the Haarlemmermeer the city could no longer refresh the water in its canals from the Spaarne. The new industry made the water quality even worse, and in 1859 de Oude Gracht, a canal, was changed into a street.

In 1878 the a horse tram starts servicing passanger from the trainstation to the Haarlemmerhout, and in 1899 the first Dutch electric tram ran in Haarlem. From 1879 the population of the city almost doubled in thirty years, from 36,976 to 69,410 in 1909. Not only did the population grow, but the city is expanding to. The Leidse district and parts of Schoten are annexed in the 1880's.

In the beginning of the 20th century the city expanded north-wards. As early as 1905 an official plan was presented by the Haarlem municipality for expansion. However, the surrounding municipalities did not agree, and it would take 25 years to come to an agreement. On April 21st, 1920 the municality of Schoten became part of Haarlem, as well as part of Spaarndam and large chunks of other surrounding municipalities. The population increased at once with 31,184 citizens.

In 1908 a renewed trainstation was openend. The station was elevated, so traffic in the city was no longer hampered by railway crossings.

Later the expansion of the city went south-wards (Schalkwijk) and east-wards (Waarderpolder). In 1932 Vroom & Dreesmann, a Dutch retailer built a large shop at the Verwult. Many buildings were demolished, except one small shop on the corner: "Van der Pigge", which is now encapsulated by the V&D building.

The city went through rough times in the Great Depression of 1930s.

During World War II Hannie Schaft worked for a Dutch resistance group. From September 17th to September 21st 1944, parts of Haarlem-Noord (above the Jan Gijzenvaart) were evacuated by the Germans to make place for a defensive line. The stadium of HFC Haarlem, the soccerclub, was demolished. Hundreds of people had to leave their houses and were forced to stay with other citizens.

From September 22nd there was gas available only two hours per day. Electricity stopped on October 9th. The German occupiers builded a think, black wall through the Haarlemmerhout (in the south of the city), as well as at the Jan Gijzenvaart in the evacuated area. The wall was called Mauer-muur and was ment to help defend the city.

In 1944 the family of Corrie ten Boom was arrested by the Nazis; they had been hiding Jews and Dutch resistance workers from the German occupier throughout the war.

After the war much of the large industry moved to outside the city, such as the money-printing firm Johan Enschedé & Zn..

In 1963 a large number of houses was built in Schalkwijk.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Haarlem".

This city is also known as: Haarlem.

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